Returning to work after a career break can be fairly daunting. If the break has been the result of caring responsibilities, whether for children or adults, then it may feel like a mountain to climb because the focus has been on the needs and challenges of those we are caring for. If the person for whom we are caring is seriously ill, then that focus is amplified even further. I know, because I’ve been there.
If you previously suffered ‘imposter syndrome’ while in a successful role, your confidence may have been further eroded during the period of ‘caring’ and you may wonder where you will fit within the professional world. You may also be thinking “what can I offer?” or “where do I begin to look for a role?”
The first challenge is to turn the focus back on ourselves, build confidence and start planning for the future. It’s important to remember is that you are not alone and there are many sources of help and guidance. While I am a coach myself, it is not easy to self-coach and so I worked with a coach to build my confidence while taking a number of practical steps. Here are 6 tips to help you on the right path:
Being a carer develops a range of new people and professional skills so make sure you acknowledge them; I became a skilled negotiator, creative problem solver, enhanced my multi-tasking and time management At the same time I learned to successfully work with a much wider range of people I had not encountered before from NHS and social workers through to care workers and charities.
2. Acknowledge Previous Success
Take out your most recent CV and note all your past successes and recognise them. You haven’t lost your experience, education and talents; you may just have put them on ice for a while. Work returners often undervalue what they offer and so be absolutely clear about your strengths and capabilities.
3. New Skills, New Context
Consider how you might apply your new skills in an employer’s context. For example, if you have developed time management skills, this is a good selling point for potential employers. Alternatively, are you able to provide greater insight into customer thinking through your experience of using public services?
4. Getting Up to Date
Look for ways to get up to date with current thinking perhaps through volunteering, attending professional events or internship or temporary work. This will build your network and may even lead to something longer-term.
Make networking one of your key strategies but remember that the quality of relationships is what matters, not the quantity. First impressions count, so do follow up where appropriate. See my article ‘The Network Inspector’ http://www.ljkresources.co.uk/LJKBlog/tabid/107/EntryId/25/The-Network-Inspector-REVISITED.aspx
6. Seek Support
Don’t be afraid to seek support and guidance from friends, family, former colleagues or professionals. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the bigger pictures and the support of a professional coach to help develop confidence and work towards achieving goals may be just the platform to re-launch your career.